The Mind-Body Connection in Sport

Mental focus techniques are important for learning skills and maximizing performance. For example, discus throwers and rotational shot-putters often drive to a point on the horizon to increase force development (external focus technique). People will sometimes attempt to drive their feet through the floor when performing a squat. Other times, mental focus techniques involve internal cues such as bracing the core when making cutting moves on the playing field or squeezing the glutes together during a bench press. Brad Schoenfeld from Lehman College in New York and Brett Contreras from AUT University in New Zealand concluded that power athletes should emphasize external focus techniques (e.g., focal points in the discus), while weightlifters and powerlifters try to maximize force benefit more from internal focus techniques, such as stiffening the core during maximum efforts. (Strength and Conditioning Journal, 38 (1): 27-29, 2016)

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